FDA Approve Skin Cancer Drug

Numerous types of skin cancer exist, these include melanoma (the most aggressive and rarest form) and non-melanoma skin cancer - squamous and basal cell carcinoma. Skin cancer is avoidable in most cases by avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, UV radiation being the culprit.

Basal cell carcinoma affects the epidermis (top layer of skin). Areas of the body mainly affected are within the head and neck regions, especially the nose.

Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma is the main form of skin cancer - accounting for approximately 80% of non-melanoma skin cancers - accounting for around 3 million of global cases. Although non-melanomas rarely metastasize (spread) to other areas of the body, local basal cell carcinoma, for example, spreads to adjacent tissue and can result in disfigurement. Basal cell carcinoma responds well to treatment - although it often involves invasive techniques such as Mohs surgery or other surgical techniques.

Innovative Drug for Basal Cell Carcinoma

Odomzo (generic name sonidegib), has gained FDA approval for the treatment of locally advanced basal cell carcinomas. Marketed by the Swiss company Novartis Pharmaceuticals headquartered in the US, the drug is aimed for patients that are unable to undergo surgery or radiotherapy, or those with recurrent skin cancer (that have had the aforementioned treatments). Odomzo works by suppressing a specific molecular pathway (called the Hedgehog pathway) of basal cell carcinomas.

The drug is taken orally and daily, clinical trials indicate a reduction (or resolution) in cancerous growth of over 58% in patients treated with 200 milligrams (mg). However, like any other drug, there are associated side effects that range from muscle spasm, hair loss to nausea and more. Another group of patients that took 800mg had these side effects more pronounced. Odomzo is also prohibited for pregnant women as it may cause defects or death of the fetus. The drug also has the ability to seriously damage the musculoskeletal system.

In 2012, Another FDA approved drug was Erivedge (vismodegib), for the treatment of locally advanced and metastatic basal cell carcinoma.

Despite these hurdles and the contrary benefits, further understanding of molecular pathways of cancer, like the Hedgehog pathway, for example, could potentially expand therapeutic developments in cancer treatment resulting in further drugs being FDA approved.

Herzliya Medical Center offers innovative treatments for various forms of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma treatment. Early diagnosis significantly influences a good prognosis overall. If you are concerned by any unusual-looking moles or lesions on the skin or have a family history of skin cancer, a consultation with our dermatologists is highly recommended.

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